The Westchester High School Comets boys basketball team was handed its first loss of the season Saturday, December 8th, in a 67-60 defeat to Taft High School of Woodland Hills in the championship game of Westchester’s home tournament, the Tip-Off Classic.

The tournament final was a chance for two of the Southland’s top basketball teams to battle each other early this season. Westchester (4-1) was ranked second in the Southland by the Los Angeles Times before the match-up, while Taft (4-0) was right behind with the third-place ranking.

The Comets had reached the championship of their own tournament after earning convincing wins over Hawthorne High (78-59) and Bishop Montgomery High (69-40).

But Taft proved to be more of a challenge, taking the lead at the end of the third quarter and closing out the victory with key free throws late in the game.

Westchester jumped out to the early advantage and held a 36-29 lead at halftime. The Comets continued to hold the lead for most of the third quarter, until Taft began to turn things around and took over the advantage heading into the final quarter of play.

Oscar Bellfield led the Comets with 18 points, including six three-pointers. Jarred Dubois scored 12 points, and Dwayne Polee added nine points and eight rebounds.

Taft was led by forward Eugene Phelps, who finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The Comets will next play in the Ocean View Tournament.